Ministry of Education Update – Extended School Closure Following the April Break
As you may be aware, the Chief Medical Officer of Health has confirmed that the transmission of COVID-19 in schools has remained low, and schools remain a place for students to learn safely with appropriate measures in place. However, the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly, and we recognize that the students and staff in the education system play an important role in supporting efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
On, Monday, April 12, 2021, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has made the difficult decision to move elementary and secondary schools to remote learning following the April Break. This move has been made in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants, and the spike in hospital admissions. This means that schools will remain closed following the April Break for an additional period, reverting to online learning, on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 for all JK to Grade 8 students. Our secondary students, grades 9-12, will resume Quadmester 4 classes as originally scheduled on Wednesday, April 21st. Monday, April 19th will allow K-8 staff to prepare for remote learning and to engage with students to communicate remote learning expectations for Tuesday. The government will continue to listen to public health experts and will update parents once a safe return to in-person learning is recommended.
Since April 8, the province has been under a provincewide Stay-at-Home order, requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise with your household in your home community, or for work that cannot be done remotely. As Ontario’s health care capacity is threatened, the Stay-at-Home order, and other new and existing public health and workplace safety measures, will work to preserve public health system capacity, safeguard vulnerable populations, allow for progress to be made with vaccinations and save lives. We anticipate that as the vaccine rollout continues to evolve, positive cases of COVID-19 will decrease allowing for a return to in-person instruction.
Teachers and support staff will be available online during regular school hours to support your child’s learning through the Microsoft TEAMS or D2L/Brightspace platform. Teachers will use a blend of synchronous and asynchronous strategies to engage students and facilitate learning. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s learning or require support in getting connected to the online classroom, please contact your child’s school effective April 19th. Schools will not be open; however, phone lines will be monitored.
The Ministry of Education has two portals, TVO Learn and TFO IDÉLLO, apprendre à la maison, which provide supports for students learning remotely by accessing additional educational resources developed by Ontario certified teachers.
In addition, secondary students can continue to access TVO’s Independent Learning Centre (ILC) Open House and Portes ouvertes pour les cours TVO ILC in French-language, which provide access to 144 Grade 9 to 12 courses. These ILC resources are designed to provide flexible learning opportunities to help students keep up with their learning or deepen their understanding of a specific subject in addition to their regular course timetable.
Technology for Remote Learning
As of April 19th, please contact your school principal should you have any technology related concerns, including internet connectivity.
Most students with special education needs will be learning remotely during this period. In-person learning will be reserved for students with special education needs that cannot be accommodated through remote learning. CDSBEO will continue to work diligently to ensure that plans are in place to support students with special education needs with support from education workers and board professionals (e.g. behavioural experts, speech language pathologists, and other professionals) to support remote learning. Any student with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning based on their needs will be reviewed by the School Principal to determine if an accommodation for in-person learning is required on a case-by-case basis.
Please be reminded that students who access services at the school and in the community will continue to be connected to those services. Students will continue to have remote access to services, through the school, community child and youth mental health or local healthcare partners. In addition, mental health resources remain available to students and families, including Kids Help Phone, which offers 24/7 counselling and referral services across the province. To use this free resource, children can call 1-800-668-6868, or text CONNECT to 686868.
School Mental Health Ontario also has a number of great resources for students, parents and families on their website at www.smho-smso.ca. In addition, child and youth mental health agencies across the province continue to provide services.
While elementary and secondary students are learning remotely, student transportation services will only be provided for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning based on their needs. All transportation services will resume once in-person instruction returns.
Child Care Centres in Schools
Schools offering licensed infant, toddler and preschool programs will continue to provide access to their on-site childcare centres. Schools that offer before and after school programs will be closed effective April 19, 2021, until such time as in-person learning is permitted to operate.
The Emergency Child Care (ECC) programs for school-aged children for health care and other frontline workers, free of charge to parents, will be communicated once more information is available.
Should you have any additional questions please contact your child’s school. Thank you for your ongoing cooperation and support.